Two models of social welfare are usually mentioned in historical reviews of social welfare and also in the contemporary literature on the subject. The dominant and popular model is usually referred to as the remedial or residual model which is contrasted with the other model described variously as the institutional/institutional-redistributive or developmental model of social welfare. It is frequently argued by some wellknown Western and Indian writers that the latter model is more suited to the countries of the third world which includes India.
Professional social work as evolved in the west, particularly in the U.S.A., and U.K., has been greatly influenced by the remedial model of social welfare for a variety of historical reasons. This in turn has moulded the nature of social work education which has the objective of preparing professional manpower for employment in the field of social welfare. We in India are completing seventy five years of social work education. It is an appropriate time for an overview of both the profession and the social work education. While it is not possible to do justice to such an assessment in this paper, a few observations would be made before taking up one or two features for discussion.
Some manpower studies carried out in a few major states in the country indicate that during this period of seventy five years the growth of the profession has been very slow. Even highly developed states do not have more than 25 per cent of the employed social welfare personnel with professional education. For most jobs in the field, professional education is not a required qualification. Salary scales are unattractive and promotional avenues are very limited, both vertically and horizontally. While official pronouncements of plans and policy, especially from the 5th Five Year Plan onwards, emphasize developmental aspects of social welfare, the financial allocations in the subsequent plans and the programmes included in them retain, with one or two exceptions, the traditional model of social welfare. The Integrated Child Development Services ( ICDS ) is one of these exceptions. But the employment potential for professionally trained social workers is practically nil because at the level of project supervisors, home science graduates are preferred and the field level jobs are not attractive or suitable to professional social workers. The other exception is the programmes of integrated rural development, though politically important and with substantial financial allocations, the employment potential for professional social workers is not any better than in the ICDS.
Social Work Education in India has been based on the traditional model of social welfare and social work practice with some modifications to suit the Indian situation. At the beginning of the decade of 1970's a few social work educators in India (including this writer) began to advocate developmental orientation to social welfare and social work education which was also the emerging new trend, both regionally and internationally. The factors responsible for this have been discussed elsewhere. An official committee endorsed this new orientation to social work practice and education by recommending that social work education should be in tune with social reality and it should have a rural bias in contrast to the prevalent urban-industrial-metropolis model (UGC 1980). While almost all social work educators publicly seem to be committed to the developmental model of social welfare and social work education, there is very little evidence of the implementation of this commitment either in social work practice or social work education. We need not go into the reasons for this here.
A brief explanation of developmental social welfare, a convenient shorthand term for the new model, will be made, before illustrating some of its features in a few selected areas of social work practice. The term 'development' and 'social development' are frequently used in the literature dealing with this model. There are no widely accepted definitions of these concepts in the disciplines concerned such as economics, sociology and social welfare.** The economist's perception of development is based on his own discipline's bias and expansiveness which has been described as economism by Nieuwenhuize, a well known Dutch sociologist. Conceptually the economists have moved from economic growth and later economic development as the central objective of planned nation-building by the newly independent countries of the third world to a broader but not significantly different concept of development. They include in it some non-economic variables which together are referred to in a residual meaning of the term 'social' as social development. It may mean either or both of the following: social prerequisites to (economic) development and social consequences of development (considered as undesirable). In U.N. literature it tends to be stated as economic development plus institutional change without clearly defining institutional change, but with occasional references to family planning and land reforms as programmes or to the objective of social justice, sometimes also referred to as redistribution or distributive justice. Gradual elimination of the mass problems of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty are included in this view of development.
The sociologists tend to take a holistic view of the term social development which includes economic development as one of the many components rather than as the dominant feature of it. In a recent major treatise on development a western sociologist defines social development as social-culturally relevant development (Van Nieuwenhuiz 1982). To conclude, while at the level of conceptual description this is done very elegantly by some, its operational discussions tend to remain vague if not quite impractical and thus vulnerable to the critical attacks by the economists (Sovani,1975). Social development, in the words of Myrdal, “is the movement upward of the entire social system” ( Myrdal 1975 ). The goal of planned social development in India is to create a secular, democratic, egalitarian society, which ensures welfare of all the members of the society. The Gandhian concept of Sarvodaya with its emphasis on the welfare of the weakest and the poorest (Antyodaya) would be a relevant goal for this country.
The developmental functions of social welfare have been discussed by some Indian and western authors (Druckers, 1972, Gore, 1973, Kendall, 1974, Kulkarni 1974, Pathak 1981). Promotion of values necessary for social development like secularism, equality, social justice; to advocate the rights and interests of the disadvantaged; to promote social change as part of social development; to anticipate dysfunctional changes which are the inevitable part of the developmental process and to provide for the protection of vulnerable sections of the population who are affected by these; to initiate macro-level prevention of major social problems; and to participate in the formulation of social policy and social planning are stated to be the developmental tasks or functions.
In what way developmental social welfare differs in practice from the traditional remedial model? One or two illustrations are presented. It is, methodologically speaking, community oriented social work practice with the members of the family/extended family as the smallest micro-level unit of attention at one end and the change-orientated macro-level social action/social policy planning at the other end. This approach discards, to a great extent, the philosophy of individualism and the adjustment of deviant individuals and marginal, alienated groups to the existing social structure which is taken as given, unchangeable and generally beneficial to the people. Its emphasis is more on prevention from the level of the community leading to the state and national levels, of social conditions considered as harmful.
A recent survey of a slum community in Baroda revealed that most of the handicapped children suffered this physical handicap due to polio. Instead of referring them as cases to the few health agencies in the city for individualized treatment and rehabilitation, a community based programme of rehabilitation would be organized by organizations like the Baroda Citizen's Council or some other organization with the collaboration of trained health and welfare personnel. It attempts to include all the cases of children identified by the survey. Simultaneously, a community wide health education campaign would be launched with audio-visual aids to reach out to every family in the community, supported by a selective face-to-face group discussion, to prevent other children from being victims of polio or other crippling disease. This would entail vigorous immunization programme in the community by mobile teams which could be linked up with the recently launched universal national immunization programme for children below the age of 3 years. This is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the traditional medical social work practiced through institutional medical and allied services like hospitals or rehabilitation centers, whether independently operating or attached to medical institutions. The social worker works in and through the community with the support of the medical institutions. The social worker works in and through the community with the support of the medical institutions as and when necessary to deal with severe and complicated cases. It should be obvious that the traditional service infrastructures and practice approaches will not be totally irrelevant but the emphasis is markedly different.
Rtd. Professor, Dept. of Social Work, Delhi University
Social Work Learning Academy
30,000 HR PROFESSIONALS ARE CONNECTED THROUGH OUR NIRATHANKA HR GROUPS.
YOU CAN ALSO JOIN AND PARTICIPATE IN OUR GROUP DISCUSSIONS.
MHR LEARNING ACADEMY
Get it on Google Play store
nIRATHANKA CITIZENS CONNECT
OUR OTHER WEBSITES